Sunday, January 30, 2011

Reports of the Alabama Democratic Party’s Demise Have Been Greatly Exaggerated

After a few weeks off to catch my breath, and to deal with everything from the real world that could be put off until after the election (including an unforeseen family health problem; thanks again, all, for the calls and emails), it’s time to take a look at what happened, and why, in last November’s elections.

What, we know. For the first time since the votes were counted by funny-talking guys in blue uniforms, Alabama will have a Republican legislature, and the Tennessee Valley will be represented by an elected Republican in the U.S. House of Representatives. Democrats suffered our first shutout ever in statewide offices. A number of elected local Democrats went down, but the casualty count there wasn’t as bad as it was upballot. Just to pull out some examples, Democratic Sheriffs Jerry Studdard in Talladega County and Jimmy Harris in DeKalb County, as well as Democratic Sheriff nominee Chuck Phillips in Jackson County, handily beat their GOP opponents, even while the statewide ticket was taking a thumping in their counties. So let’s start our analysis with the fact that, despite what you heard a “political scientist” proclaiming on television on election night, Alabamians, even white Alabamians, will vote for at least some Democrats.

Many pundits took the opportunity of this election to call it an ideological refudiation (to borrow a word from an execrable source) of progressive, Democratic ideology. Under this paradigm, moderate and independent voters were reacting to the “liberal” or “leftist” tilt of the Democratic Party. While the message mismanagement (and in some cases, nonmanagement) of the Obama Administration made this a plausible hypothesis, a closer look at the numbers doesn’t bear it out.

The biggest problem suffered by Alabama Democrats in 2010 was nothing less - or more - than a significant upsurge in the white voter turnout. To see clearly how much the white vote increased this year, compare the Democratic and Republican vote totals in two overwhelmingly white counties, and three black-majority Democratic strongholds, in the 2010 and 2006 gubernatorial races:



Democratic 2006Democratic 2010Republican 2006Republican 2010
Shelby10,69613,57737,16149,118
Cullman9,5378,80115,08121,083
Macon4,5416,6321,274919
Green3,2603,666973665
Perry3,0253,2771,2371,138

Note that the Democratic vote in Cullman did not drop off that much, and the Democratic vote in Shelby actually made a small uptick. This was not a matter of traditional white Democratic voters switching parties in significant numbers. This was, purely and simply, a case of a lot of white folks, who had not been voting in recent cycles, coming out of the woodwork last November. (Don’t let anyone tell you that the significant increase in Shelby County is attributable to population growth in the last quadrennium. In the wake of the Bush Recession, housing starts there shrank to a trickle in the runup to the 2010 election.) Neither were the increases in Macon and Greene Counties indicative of a statewide (and offsetting) increase in black turnout; local bingo shutdowns by Bob Riley were almost certainly responsible for those numbers.

Of course, the increased white vote was seriously polarized. Heavily white, but historically Democratic strongholds like Cherokee, Franklin, Marion, and Jackson Counties, went for Bentley. The correlation between race and party choice in this election is obvious:


You may have noticed that the correlation is not so strong in those counties where the black population is under 10%. This is a long-standing historical phenomenon, and many of those counties have been part of the Democratic base. The correlation strengthens significantly as the black population approaches and passes 30%. While this is in part the mathematical result of an overwhelmingly Democratic black vote becoming a larger portion of the electorate, historical precinct-level studies have confirmed that the phenomenon has been manifest within those counties, at the precinct level. This failure of these Democratic base counties to polarize as extremely as other counties provides significant statistical support for a conclusion that it was “new” voters, not switching voters (as in the media narrative), that caused the Republican surge.

What is harder to say is, what caused this increase in white turnout, and its polarization. In part, this is because there is not the depth of exit polling data available that typically follows a presidential election. But it doesn’t take a very seasoned political hand to guess what it was. In 2006, only a handful of political junkies in Alabama knew who Barack Obama was. In 2010, he was President, and the constant focus of the Republican campaign at every level. His what-me-worry messaging style only allowed the GOP to paint him as a scarier, more liberal, and less American figure. Yes, Alabama once again ran the race flag up the pole, and saluted it.

I can see one objection to this analysis, and it bears answering. If race was the determining factor in this year’s white turnout, why did the same thing not happen in 2008, when Obama was actually on the ballot? Why were Lucy Baxley, Bobby Bright, and then-Democrat Parker Griffith (does anyone still remember him??) not swamped in the same racist riptide that caught Jim Folsom, Jr., Susan Parker, and a raft of veteran legislators? It is my rejoinder to this objection that gives me hope for the Democratic Party’s future in Alabama.

To understand what made 2006 and 2008 different from 2010, we have to reset our mental worldviews to the earlier years. We have to avoid the historical amnesia that is more characteristic of Republican voters. In each of the earlier election years, potential voters were treated to a steady diet of Republican incompetence. Katrina, an un-caught bin Laden, two wars dragging on without results, and a growing stream of Bush scandals were part of the national zeitgeist in both election years. By the time of the 2008 election, Lehman Brothers (which was founded in Montgomery) had failed, and the economy had gone into free-fall, on Bush’s watch. Even Bubba, watching Fox News, couldn’t avoid his daily dose of this bad news. Anyone who doubts that this sort of steady diet of bad news can overcome the deepest prejudices or sympathies, needs only look around to see how many Auburn or Alabama sweatshirts (as the case may be) vanish from public view when one of those football teams is going 5-7. In that respect, racists (to their horror) are just like everyone else. Fair weather fans. They simply were de-energized by a tidal wave (no continuation of the football pun intended) of bad news, and stayed home in the 2006 and 2008 cycles.

Since the day of Hippocrates, diagnosis has been the better part of prescription. We cannot replicate the national disasters of the Bush years. (Neither, like the GOP House, should we seek to for political gain.) We cannot, apparently, tutor the President on effective progressive advocacy. But we, as Alabama Democrats, can do a more effective job of sharpening the differences between us and the Alabama Republican Party. We can do a much better job of bringing to voters’ attention the sordid figure of the Wall Street Wizard behind the “Christian” curtain. We can, with skill, create a large measure of both paid and earned media to trim the edges of racist enthusiasm (and, thus, turnout). We can, at long last, and despite sputtering efforts to claim we were doing so, finally have a cycle where the Democratic Party rings the doorbell of every regular Alabama voter, greets him or her by name, and asks for his or her support. I am optimistic about the prospects of this from the comments of newly-elected SDEC Chairman, Judge Mark Kennedy. In his acceptance speech, he promised that “We are going to eat their elephant one sound bite at a time.” This (along with my years of knowing Judge Kennedy, and having helped in his judicial campaigns) tells me that he at least sees where the problem is. I suggest we all do what we can to help Judge Kennedy keep this focus, and resist the “wisdom” of the cliques who would tell him to keep doing things the old way.

Take heart in this. Whatever you read in the pro-Republican “media” in many parts of Alabama, do not become too discouraged. It may well be that the reports of the Alabama Democratic Party’s demise have been, like those of the Sage of Hannibal, greatly exaggerated.

52 comments:

  1. Welcome back! You were missed.

    Sorry, but I don't share your optimism about the future of the Alabama Democratic Party. The party is divided, and I'm not sure the newly elected Cat Herder wants to unite the party. He has the support of the wing of the party that feels the reason democrats lost is because they are seen as the N word loving party that caters to black voters and ignores white voters.

    It's obvious African Americans are tolerated but not embraced by the ADP. For that reason African Americans should register as Independents and start supporting candidates who share their interest and not a party that takes them for granted.

    ReplyDelete
  2. We don't register by Party preference in Alabama. As always, enjoyed reading your analysis.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I stand corrected. Should read African Americans should vote as Independents and support candidates who share their interest instead of a party that takes them for granted.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Talladega County Commissioner, Jackie Swinford, tried to do a party switch to Republican and they turned him down, why would the Democrats even consider taking him back?

    ReplyDelete
  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  6. the dems are taking the black for granted ?? Really no party has done more for the blacks than democrat party for the last 50 yrs maybe its not the party maybe its people who think that someone owes them a living i seen it in black and white people in the south in thirty years i've lived in Alabama but i know one thing if you think that the republicans will get you too the holy land you sadly mistaken if this Ryan plan is enacted as president Clinton said just last YOU WILL FEEL IT if you have a family member in a nursing home they will not be in there long if you want too send your kids too college forget it all college grants will be eliminated i know most of wont believe a word im saying but don't say i didn't warn you

    ReplyDelete
  7. It's the best time to make a few plans for the future
    and it is time to be happy. I've read this post and if
    I may just I want to suggest you few attention-grabbing
    issues or advice. Maybe you can write subsequent articles referring to this article.
    I desire to learn even more issues approximately it!

    Feel free to surf to my homepage ... funding

    ReplyDelete
  8. Did not thought about this until now :)African Mango Extract prevents the pancreas from smashing down starch into
    maltose and dextrin. It also can stop the growth of alpha-amylase nutrients in the body system.
    Medical practitioners sometimes propose this to their subjects who are diabetics because the African Mango stops the
    production of alpha-glucosidase located in the digestive system from switching disaccharides
    and starches into sugar and carbohydrates. African
    Mango benefits also prevents glucose and carbohydrate food from
    transforming into surplus fat by blocking the creation of
    citrate lyase. Some doctors use Garcinia as a laxative to help with costiveness or other wellness reasons such as
    fat loss, stress relief, depressive disorder, mood swings and as a aid to obtaining a
    wonderful night sleeping.

    Review my site organic african mango seed

    ReplyDelete
  9. The days when you could be fairly certain that if you are
    one of millions of drivers through dearer motor fleet insurance.

    The Co-op is working with Coverbox, a web-based brokerage company, to develop the technology alongside Allianz Insurance, Equity Red Star admits this is
    a dangerous road to go down. While the double-digit Motor Fleet Insurance inflation of recent years has tailed off to about 6%
    - for these hundreds of thousands of pounds to resolve.



    My page - zurich fleet insurance quote

    ReplyDelete
  10. Howdy! I just noticed your website: Blogger: Wanted:
    Alabama Democrats when I was explloring reddit.com. It looks as though someone liked your sjte so much they
    decided to bookmark it. I'll certainly be returning here moree
    often.

    Have a look at my web page - Dragon city hack tool

    ReplyDelete
  11. Highly energetic post, I loved that bit. Will there be a part 2?


    Feel free to surf to my weblog; Tools for SEO

    ReplyDelete
  12. Choose whether any of your constraints are holding you back or whether you could employ the aid of others
    to pack in the spaces. Failing to do so makes it certain for the company to
    falter drastically in the longer run. Regularly improve and update your products to enable you build a solid connection with your customers.


    My website; soundcloud.com ()

    ReplyDelete
  13. Interesting post, specifically just what I wished
    to find. Thanks!

    Visit my website - gynecomastia surgery

    ReplyDelete
  14. Hi, I do think this is a great website. I stumbledupon it ;) I will return yet again since i have book marked it.

    Money and freedom is the greatest way to change, may you be rich and continue to guide
    others.

    Also visit my blog: CAMTASIA KEY

    ReplyDelete
  15. Have you ever thougyht about including a little bit more
    than jusdt ypur articles? I mean, what you say is important and all.

    However think about if youu added some great visuals oor video clips
    to give your posts more, "pop"! Your content is excellent but with images aand video clips, this site could
    definitely be one of thee best in its niche. Great blog!


    Feel free to visit my webpaghe iphone 5 icloud hack

    ReplyDelete
  16. This is very interesting, You're a vedy skilled blogger.
    I've joined your fded and look forward to seeking more of your magnificet post.
    Also, I have shared your website in my social networks!



    Allso visit my page: iphone 5s icloud activation

    ReplyDelete
  17. Thanks for finally talking about >"Rports off the Alabama Democratic Party's Demise Have Been Greatly Exaggerated" < Loved it!

    Look into my web page; iphone
    4 icloud bypass

    ReplyDelete
  18. I think this is among the most significant information for me.
    Annd i'm glad reading your article. But wana remark onn some general things, The web site style is perfect,
    the articles is really excellent : D. Good job, cheers

    Vsit my homepage ihacktivation download

    ReplyDelete
  19. What a data of un-ambiguity and preserveness of precious experience about unpredicted feelings.



    My homepage - ihacktivation download

    ReplyDelete
  20. Aw, this was a very nice post. Taking the time and actual effort to create
    a really good article… but what can I say… I procrastinate a loot and don't manage to get anything done.


    Heree is my web-site: ipad 2 icloud activation

    ReplyDelete
  21. Very nice post. I just stumbled uoon your blog and wanted to say that I've truly enjoyed
    browsing your blog posts. After all I'll be subscribing to your rss feed and I hope you write agaqin soon!

    Take a look at my blog post: ihacktivation download

    ReplyDelete
  22. Just want tto say your article is as astonishing.
    Thhe clarity in your post is just nice and i cann assume you're an expert on this subject.
    Well with your permiseion allow me to grab your
    feed to keep up to date with forthcoming post. Thanks a million and
    please continue the rewardkng work.

    Feel frtee to visit my web blog: iphone 5s icloud bypass

    ReplyDelete
  23. Hello my loved one! I wish to say that this article is amazing, great written and include approximately all significant infos.
    I wwould like to pee more posts like this .

    Look at my web page: ipad 2

    ReplyDelete
  24. Wonderful, what a web site it is! Thhis weblog presents helpful information to us, keep
    it up.

    Here is my weblog - iphone 5s icloud hack

    ReplyDelete
  25. I was wondering if you ever considered changinng tthe structure of your blog?
    Its very well written; I love what youve got to say.
    But maybe you could a little more in the way of content so people could connect with it better.
    Youve got aan awful lot of text ffor only having 1 or 2 images.
    Maybe youu could space it out better?

    Here iis my site; ihacktivation icloud

    ReplyDelete
  26. Hey! Would you mind if I share your blog with mmy facebook group?

    There's a lot of people that I think would really enjoy your content.
    Please let me know. Thank you

    Also visit my web blog icloud bypass

    ReplyDelete
  27. Wow, amazing blog format! Howw long have you ever
    been blogging for? you made blogging glance easy.

    The oveerall glance off your site is wonderful, as well as the content!



    Also visit my site; League of War cheats iphone

    ReplyDelete
  28. At this moment I am going away to do my breakfast, after having my breakfast coming yet again to read more news.


    My homepage ... plumber snake Chandler

    ReplyDelete
  29. It is also abundant in red meat, salmon, and tuna.

    my web page - liquid vitamins

    ReplyDelete
  30. hi!,I love your writing so so much! proportion we be in contact more
    approximately your post on AOL? I need an expert in this house to unravel my problem.
    May be that's you! Looking forward to peer you.

    Take a look at my webpage ... www

    ReplyDelete
  31. I’m not that much of a online reader to be honest but
    your sites really nice, keep it up! I'll go ahead and bookmark your site to come
    back in the future. Many thanks

    my web-site ... cosan.info - -

    ReplyDelete
  32. Ϝor tҺose who choose a moгe public multiplayer gaming knowledge Kisses օr even Spades iѕ rigҺt foг you.
    Now you understand hhow you'гe feeling, choose yoou mɑy be
    nonetheless devoted tօ ending the procedure уߋu set
    out to tryy and do. 100 % free cards on tthe net ϲould ԁo not necessarily signify onlү οne mann can start to play thеse people.


    Feel free to surf to myy web-site; spider solitaire download, webs.com,

    ReplyDelete
  33. hi!,I like your writing very a lot! proportion we keep in touch more approximately your post on AOL?
    I need an expert on this house to unravel my problem.
    Maybe that is you! Having a look forward to peer you.

    My website vitamax garcinia cambogia

    ReplyDelete
  34. I'm gone to convey my little brother, that he should also
    pay a visit this blog on regular basis to obtain updated from most recent gossip.


    my blog: goji berry

    ReplyDelete
  35. Hello, I read your blogs regularly. Your humoristic style is awesome, keep it up!


    Visit my web site ... quick weight loss diets

    ReplyDelete
  36. I know this website provides quality based content and extra stuff,
    is there any other site which provides these stuff in quality?


    Feel free to surf to my web-site; natural green cleanse contact number

    ReplyDelete
  37. Just as he was about to be locked up, Connery shouted,"007. His fatalistic point of view is a lens on the powers that be versus the mere moral. Brownlow's 1981 documentary TV series Hollywood won a BAFTA Award.

    Also visit my web-site ... eli wallach family

    ReplyDelete
  38. She was beginning to wonder if this was lust she was feeling because each time
    he came up to her or even passed by her in a room, she practically had to reach out and
    catch her heart in front of her because it jumped out of her chest.
    I'll let you get back to whatever it was that you were
    doing. For our special, today, we have our new Panqueque De Manana.



    Take a look at my weblog boom beach hack

    ReplyDelete
  39. Your method of telling the whole thing in this
    article is in fact nice, every one can effortlessly
    understand it, Thanks a lot.

    My blog ... school loan

    ReplyDelete
  40. Hey there! I just want to give you a huge thumbs up for the excellent information you've got here on this post.

    I will be returning to your website for more soon.

    my website; online marketing success

    ReplyDelete
  41. Unquestionably consider that that you stated. Your favorite justification appeared to be on the internet
    the simplest thing to take into accout of. I say to you,
    I certainly get irked even as folks think about concerns that they
    plainly do not understand about. You managed to hit the nail upon the highest as smartly as defined out the whole thing without having side effect , other folks
    could take a signal. Will probably be again to get more.
    Thanks

    my webpage; Raspberry ketone blast

    ReplyDelete
  42. A person necessarily assist to make critically aarticles I'd state.
    That is the very firfst time I frequented your website page and
    sso far? I amazed with the analysis you mde to make this particular publisdh extraordinary.
    Magnificent job!

    Here is my website; Klondike Cheats

    ReplyDelete
  43. Advanced managed dedicated server hosting service includes server hardening.
    Online marketing requires knowledge on some software, tools, strategies and techniques that range from basic to a more complex procedure.
    Nonetheless, the basic requirements that one requires to consider when in the market for
    service provider is disk space and bandwidth as these greatly determines your uptime.



    Feel free to surf to my web blog ... WEB HOSTING - -

    ReplyDelete
  44. beats nhl headphones
    Hello! I simply would like to give you a big thumbs up for the excellent info you've
    got here on this post. I am coming back to your blog for more
    soon.

    ReplyDelete
  45. Thеre are probably otɦe advantages and disadvantages and if
    you think of them, that's great. Tɦe heel of the shoe hаs
    been carefully crafted and has a moldеd foam heel pօcket that ensures
    eaee and convenience, and a seam-free lining that
    will ensuree your foot dοesn't blister. Wet wіpes, a knife, a flashlіght, map & ɡuide including matches are the other important items without which trekking seems difficult.


    Here is myy page: hiking boots mehs waterproof; ,

    ReplyDelete
  46. Hi there very cool web site!! Guy .. Excellent .. Amazing ..
    I'll bookmark your web site and take the feeds additionally?
    I'm glad to seek out numerous helpful information right here in the put up, we need develop extra strategies on this regard, thank you for
    sharing. . . . . .

    my web blog :: german (http://club.airtecsystems.com)

    ReplyDelete
  47. Outstanding quest there. What occurred after? Good luck!


    Feel free to surf to my website acme bail bonds

    ReplyDelete
  48. Woah! I'm really enjoying the template/theme of this site.
    It's simple, yet effective. A lot of times it's tough to get that "perfect balance" between user friendliness and visual
    appearance. I must say you've done a great job with this.
    In addition, the blog loads extremely fast for me on Firefox.
    Exceptional Blog!

    My homepage :: St Cloud MN Limosuine Services for Your Bachelor / Bachelorette Party

    ReplyDelete
  49. This article gives clear idea in favor of the new visitors of blogging,
    that truly how to do blogging.

    My website software testing certification

    ReplyDelete